Inside Lines: Former rugby star Derek Wyatt scrums down to replace Boris Johnson


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The Independent Online

The former England rugby union international Derek Wyatt has joined the scrum to take over from Boris Johnson as London mayor next year.

And should he get the nod from Labour as their candidate, he says he will put sport at the forefront of his election manifesto.

Wyatt, 64, who was Labour MP for Sittingbourne in Kent from 2007-2010 but stood down at the last election wants London to capitalise on the 2012 Olympics by staging the Commonwealth Games in 2026.

The next Games will be on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018 and it is likely that the 2022 event will go to Durban in South Africa or Edmonton, Canada. “London has never had the Commonwealth Games ,” he says, “though they did host the British Empire Games in 1934. But after 2012 we have all the facilities to stage the most popular Commonweath Games ever.”

The former England and Bedford wing also wants to see a sporting equivalent of the Royal Society, the UK’s academy of sciences, established in the city: “The country has a fine reputation for hosting major events and it is high time sport was accorded the same status deservedly enjoyed by science and the arts.”

Sport certainly seems destined to play a major role in the mayoral campaign, with one of Wyatt’s rivals for the Labour nomination likely to be the former Olympics minister and 2012 board member Tessa Jowell.

Jailed for trying to watch volleyball

A woman named Ghoncheh Ghavami is currently incarcerated in an Iranian jail for the heinous crime of trying to watch a volleyball match.

The law student, 25, a British-Iranian from London, was arrested in Teheran in June at an International Volleyball Federation World League match between Iran and Italy. Ghavami (left) was among a group of women peacefully asking that females be allowed in to watch the men’s match. They were arrested and allegedly beaten before being freed. She was later put on trial accused of “spreading propaganda” and given a year’s jail.

Making them pay

Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has defended the decision to ask punters to pay £16.95 to watch Saturday’s non-title scrap between Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly on Sky Box Office, while admitting it is not really a pay-per-view fight.

“But there are also six other championships fights,” he points out. “In the long run, it all brings money into the game.” Now that’s a nice little Hearner.